You can help with your child’s development. You can do that by answering the curious questions that your children ask you. But that isn’t always easy. Not only do you have to provide age-appropriate information in your answers, you have to be honest with them and sometimes accept that you do not have all of the answers! These parenting tips may help you deal with such cases. ~ Ed.
Any veteran parent in the room can attest that “Where do babies come from?” is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questioning kids. Children are perceptive and curious, and their minds absorb new information like sponges.
If you are a new parent, check out these tips for answering the upcoming onslaught of difficult questions your kids are guaranteed to ask as they grow.
7 Tips for Parents to Answer their Children’s Questions
Always provide age-appropriate information, encourage them to seek different opinions, and accept that you will not have all of the answers. Here are more tips to help parents foster their child’s development.
When your child asks you a question, answer them honestly. Whether it’s “Can we go to the park today?” or “What happens when we die?” you should answer as honestly as you can.
There is a difference between only sharing age-appropriate information with your child and lying to protect them from the harsher elements of reality. Do not answer questions without providing the appropriate time to process your answer.
Telling your kids, “I don’t think I know how to answer that, let me think about it for a minute,” will encourage them to do the same, a crucial lesson in communication development.
Not only should you be willing to tell your children that you do not have an answer for their question, but you should also be willing to accept that fact within yourself. No parent is perfect, and no parent has all the answers to their child’s burning questions.
For example, parents may not know how to answer period-related questions if they have never experienced menstruation.
When you do not know something, direct your kids (or yourself) to reliable resources. For instance, you could direct your pubescent kids towards Mixhers, a site stocked with a wealth of menstruation-related information that both kids and parents can understand. When in doubt, consult the experts.
If your child asks a question that has a subjective answer, provide your opinion (and any relevant facts that back up your claim, as long as they are age-appropriate) and encourage your child to seek views from other people too.
It is an opportunity for your child to hone their listening skills and begin building critical thinking foundations. Encourage your little ones to listen when someone answers a question, whether they’re providing a fact or an opinion.
For various reasons, kids are known to ask questions to which they already know the answer. For some kids, it can be a sign of insecurity (fear of saying the wrong thing). For others, it could be an effort to talk through a problem with their most trusted confidant.
Gifted children, in particular, can benefit from talking through a problem with encouraging prompts from you. Kids who like to talk through problems to find their own answers can take inspiration from one of improv actors’ favorite phrases.
Something as simple as a follow-up question can encourage your child to think critically, consider cause and effect, and synthesize information.
In the same breath that you are telling your child that you do not have all of the answers, you should be encouraging them to fact-check things people say using credible sources.
This conversation will look very different for different age groups and developmental levels. For instance, young children can be taught credibility by asking them, “Who knows more about medicine? An accountant or a doctor?” and explaining why the doctor is more qualified to provide medical facts.
Older children can be taught internet resources and tactics to determine whether or not a source is credible.
As mentioned above, answering your child’s questions at five will look drastically different from what it will at twelve. Do your best to provide information that is age-appropriate and comprehensible based upon their developmental level.
If your five-year-old asks why the sky is blue, it is probably not the best time to launch into an earth science lecture. Instead, use words your child can understand to answer their question without overloading them.
Some kids can become easily overwhelmed when they discover that there is so much they don’t know yet. Remind children that they do not have to know everything and that every human is constantly learning new things.
Raising happy kids is about reminding them that they will always find new information (and new questions) as they grow.
The tough questions will not get any easier, and your kids will put your patience to the test. But, by following the tips above, you can make a positive impact on your child’s development and their knowledge base (while breathing a little sigh of relief that you don’t have to explain everything as soon as they ask).
Reflect on your own childhood. What are some tricky questions you asked your parents, and how did they respond? Think also about your child’s personality and life experiences thus far. What questions do you anticipate your child might ask within the next few years?